The morning commute

This morning, as I was driving to The Boy’s school, I heard a faint but familiar sound coming from the back seat.

I glanced at him in my mirror and saw that his face was red and his eyes tearing. “C___,” I said, “are you pooping?”

“Uh-uh,” was his reply.

“Are you sure? Mommy thinks you’re pooping.”

He scowled at me and pointed forward.

“Drive!”

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Already making a wish list…

Our typical Sunday morning paper routine involves removing the ads from the news, then putting the news in the recycling bin and combing through the ads. Normally, The Boy has very little interest in any portion of the Sunday paper, but there was a Toys ‘R’ Us ad this past Sunday.

Several times on Sunday, I caught him intently studying the ad. He’d hone in on one item, then stare at it, analyzing every part of it. Of course, the ad was full of things he loves: a 7-piece drum set (out of our price range right now), several backyard sets (no room on our lot), various Thomas the Tank Engine toys… Each item was carefully scrutinized, and it was as though he weighed all the choices on the page before calling out, “Mama! Da-ee! Dis!” and pointing to his item of choice.

Yesterday morning, he spread open the ad on the couch, then stood before it, staring at each of the pictures. He propped one arm on the ottoman and leaned into it, adjusting his stance from time to time. I watched him from the kitchen as I dried and put away dishes, careful not to disturb him with my presence. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (but was really only about five minutes), he looked up, caught my eye, and beamed. “Mama! Mama! Mama!” he said, running to me, the ad flapping beside him, clutched in his tiny fist.

He threw his arms around my leg, then motioned for me to sit down. “Down!” he commanded. When I obliged, he turned around and backed into my lap, spreading open the ad for me to see. “There!” he said excitedly, pointing to the Thomas the Tank Engine table (currently on sale but both out of our price range and too big to store anywhere in our house).

“Yes, I see! That’s a very nice table!”

“Thomas,” he said, correcting me. “Mama! Thomas!”

I wouldn’t dare ask him if he wanted it. I know full well what the answer would be. Instead, I smiled, nodded, and said, “Yes, Baby, that’s a very nice table where Thomas can play!”

He seemed content enough with that response. He handed me the ad, jumped out of my lap, and turned his attention to his Yo Gabba Gabba! friends.

I caught him looking at the ad again this morning. Thankfully, it was a different page, but it was with the same intense concentration.

This behavior is eerily similar to mine in the weeks leading up to Christmas or my birthday. And with The Boy’s second birthday only days away, it’s almost like he knows!

“Mama! Up! Eat!”

Those are the words that have propelled me out of bed in the mornings lately. He repeats himself, a little louder each time, and isn’t above yanking the covers off my previously sleeping body. Some mornings, he even finds my glasses and thrusts them into my hands.

“Mama! This! On!” he commands.

Though I often wish he would let me be and find his own breakfast, I have to remind myself how precious are these moments – how fleeting is this stage of his. I drag my tired body out of bed and follow him out of my bedroom, pausing only long enough for him to turn off the television.

“S’dark!” he announces as he makes his way to the kitchen. “Mama! S’dark!”

“Yes, Baby,” I reply, reaching for the light switch. “And do you know why it’s dark? It’s dark because the rest of the world is still sleeping.”

He scowls at me, then walks in his special Toddler Waddle/Walk to his table. “Poon!” he shouts. I help him climb into the chair, then quickly fetch his spoon. His eyes light up, and he licks his lips eagerly with anticipation. I get something from the refrigerator and bring it to him. “Go-yer!” he exclaims happily, almost shrieking. I barely have a chance to remove the lid before he thrusts his spoon into the yogurt.

It really is a joy to watch him eat. He grips the spoon forcefully in his right hand, carefully cradling the yogurt cup with his left. He inserts the spoon, pulls it out, puts it into his mouth, and continues to eat. Sometimes it drips on him (“Uh-oh! Mama! Uh-oh!”), which requires my immediate attention, and he has difficulty scraping out the last bits of yogurt. But, inevitably, he will point to the empty cup and ask, quite pointedly, “More?”

He knows there is more. He knows where to find more. Sometimes he’s content with my explanation that he is only allowed to eat one yogurt for breakfast. Other times, he jumps down from his chair and runs to the refrigerator himself, struggling in vain to open the heavy doors.

When he wants to eat cereal, he’ll bring you the box, but beware: you can’t provide him with enough. When he wants to eat fruit, he’ll tell you (“Each!” “Ban!” “Pum!” “Air!”), and a meltdown may ensue because the fruit isn’t large enough to appease his appetite.

And yet, I can’t imagine another way to start my day. With a few simple commands, he’s able to get me (or my husband) up and moving about – and any thoughts of returning to my warm bed after breakfast are immediately banished, no matter the time.

So he DOES say “no”!

I was thinking the other day how generally easy-going The Boy is. We give him options on what he will wear, we let him decide what he wants to play with, we (try to) listen to him intently (sometimes without understanding a single word), and we take him very seriously.

That last part likely explains why “No!” isn’t something we often hear.

Last night at dinner, he said “no” quite a bit. “Do you want to eat?” we would ask. A stern shake of his head indicated the answer, and that was that. A few minutes later, we’d ask again, only to get the same response. We put him in his chair in front of his chicken nuggets, only to have him leap up and run back to his toys. Finally, I posited the winning question: “Do you want yogurt?” His eyes lit up, and he came running.

I read somewhere that the best way to keep a toddler’s use of “No!” at a minimum is to take his statement very seriously. In our case last night, he wasn’t really indicating that he didn’t want to eat, just that he didn’t want to eat chicken nuggets.

This finally registered this morning when I was dressing him. He awoke with remnants of a nosebleed and wet pajamas (through both of which he slept soundly for 11 hours, despite only having yogurt for dinner), so I quickly changed his diaper and dressed him in a t-shirt. After breakfast, I offered a couple of options for bottoms, and when neither met his approval, I chose a pair of shorts for him. Once dressed (complete with socks and shoes), he looked down at his shorts, grunted and tugged at them, then pointed to the beach pants he had previously scoffed. “Would you rather wear pants today?” I asked. “Ess,” he replied with a nod, then promptly sat down so that I could take off his shorts and dress him in pants.

It completely amazes me, this easy-going nature. I don’t dare claim that he’s a perfect child and never throws a tantrum. Quite the contrary – he refused five times to have his picture taken at school on Monday and is often adamant about wanting certain playthings (drumsticks and Thomas the Tank Engine, to be specific). But when he talks to us and we actually stop, get down to his level, and really listen, it’s like communicating with a little man.

A little man with a limited vocabulary and difficulty with pronunciation, sure, but a little man nonetheless.

2T, I hardly knew ye…

The Boy is becoming much more helpful when I’m trying to dress him in the mornings. Not only is he able to reach into his drawer to pull out a shirt, he puts both arms into the sleeves now before I pull it over his head. (I’m not sure where he learned that, though.)

This morning, I tried to put a brown long-sleeved shirt on him, but the neck hole was too small for his head, and, much to his chagrin (and mine), I had to take it off, set it aside, and get another shirt from his bureau. The next shirt we tried was a white shirt with a basketball silkscreened on the front (he loves this shirt). Once again, the neck hole was too small, and he got stuck. So I set aside that one, too.

Finally, I pulled out a shirt that partially buttoned down the front, knowing this, for sure, would fit over his head. And it did, with no problems. He stood remarkably still as I buttoned his shirt, then gleefully ran out of his room to play with Grandma for a while longer before we needed to leave for daycare.

As for the two shirts that no longer fit him, those are both size 2T and are now in a box of hand-me-downs that I just dropped at my friend Jen’s place. I shudder to think how many other shirts he has already outgrown. There are admittedly favorites that I like to use more often than others. And, of course, as these are long-sleeved shirts and we don’t (typically) have much weather where long sleeves are required, I can look forward to replacing these with size 3T and 4T shirts for him to use at the end of this year and early next.

He still wears 2T or 24-month bottoms (usually the pants are rolled up a bit) and can still fit into select 18-month shorts and pants (if they’re adjustable). I have a feeling I will need to take him back to the shoe store to get resized before the end of this month (maybe next weekend?) – not that his Size 7 shoes are hard to get on, but his feet have almost outgrown his 2T and 24-month footed sleepers. I can’t imagine, then, that it will be long before he outgrows this pair of shoes, too.

My baby really is a not-so-little boy, it seems. You think you understand when people tell you that it goes by really fast, but words can’t possibly explain how much he’s grown and changed in the past (almost) 22 months. And while I know cognitively there is so much more to come, it’s still difficult for my brain to process this metamorphosis is only the beginning.

Ketchup: It’s not just for dipping anymore

When I came home last night, my husband had just finished changing The Boy’s diaper and looked a little harried. I put down my things, and The Boy righted himself and ran to me. I thought he was wearing a shirt different than the one I put on him that morning, but it had been a long day, and I could well have been mistaken.

As I was cuddling The Boy (ever so briefly – these Welcome Home cuddles don’t last long), Cute Husband announced, “So, apparently, ketchup is more than a condiment now.” I looked at him quizzically. He continued, “He started dipping his pasta and chicken, but then he just reached in and started taking handfuls of it.”

My poor husband! Before I arrived, The Boy apparently had ketchup all over his hands and face – and I wasn’t mistaken about the different shirt, either.

Who knew ketchup was its own side dish?

Rude awakenings

I haven’t slept well the past two nights. Getting to sleep is fine (once I actually crawl into bed), but I’ve been rather rudely awakened.

Sunday morning, my cell phone rang at around 4:15. It was an unlisted number, and, since I didn’t get to the phone in time to actually answer it, I have no idea who called. This would only be a nuisance, except that Sunday would have been my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary and marked one year since I last spoke with my mother. So, as you might imagine, the memory of how I learned of her passing, already weighing heavy on my mind, was far too vivid. And I broke down and wept. Just as I fell back to sleep almost an hour later, though, The Boy awoke, and sleep was only a fleeting notion after that.

This morning, The Boy awoke just after 3. I went into his room, gave him Tylenol for his teething, offered some water, and watched him pop his pacifier back into his mouth, thinking that he would simply lie down and go back to sleep. Alas, he tried instead to vault himself out of his crib and insisted on my carrying him out of his room and into our bedroom when that proved futile. Around 4, he finally fell back to sleep, but he awoke again when my husband got up to take a shower. I insisted that he put his head down and rest with me for a little longer, which he did, until he decided he was done with that and slapped me several times before head-butting me.

I now have a beautiful fat lip, courtesy of The Boy.

I certainly hope tomorrow morning will bring a better start to the day.

“Mine! Mine! Miiiiiine!”

I don’t know where he picked it up.

No, that’s not true. He picked it up from school. I just don’t know which adorable child to thank.

The Boy has started to lay claim to everything he touches. At first, we weren’t sure what he was saying; it sounds an awful lot like “Mah!” It wasn’t until Cute Husband took away the drum sticks for the Rock Band drum kit that it dawned on us he was actually saying “Mine”.

He seems to pick up a new word every day. He says “boyd” (bird), “tuck” (truck – also could be a car, a train, a bus, or anything else with wheels), “cuck” (car), “ess” (yes), “ott” (hot), “ode” (cold), “mew” (milk or anything else to drink – but I’ve discovered he’s starting to really mean milk), “iss” (this), “up”, “don” (down), “ook” (book – also could mean look, depending on context), and quite a few more. These are the ones I’ve heard most frequently today (especially “tuck”, “cuck”, and “up”). He understands a whole lot more than he says, he still helps me with laundry, and he has happily put his dirty clothes in the hamper for three days in a row (woo-hoo!). And today, he put away his little people before asking Cute Husband to take out his train. I guess some of my rules have paid off.

I’m thankful he’s still not saying “no” (not verbally, anyway – he’s got the head-shake down to a science), but “mine” really threw me for a loop. Now we have to work at teaching him “share”. Suggestions?

No more looking back

We reached a major milestone this morning.

I had been postponing the switch from rear-facing car seat to forward-facing. I read somewhere that the NHTSA recommended keeping your child the rear-facing position for as long as the car seat would allow, and I was determined to do just that. After all, 20 pounds really isn’t a whole lot (and he was 20 pounds well before his first year), and there had to be a reason car seats in the rear-facing position were rated so high, anyway.

Yesterday, after much fighting, screaming, spitting, and hitting, I vowed to turn my son’s car seat around to the forward-facing position. And so, after I got to work, I did just that (and uncovered some remnants of a time, several months ago, when he puked in the car – how it didn’t stink up the car is still a mystery). It took a little time (and a good deal of rereading the booklet that came with the car seat), but I successfully reoriented the car seat.

Well, he was ready to fight me on getting into the car this morning until I plopped him into his seat. I wish I could express in words how stunned he was to be facing forward! He was so excited the entire trip to school, pointing at everything, squealing in delight at different sights… A part of me felt bad for depriving him of this experience for the past eight months. Of course, he’ll be sitting forward-facing for the rest of his life now, so I’ll have to be sure to remember this moment and remind him of it when he gets much older.

A First that came way too soon

Being a mom means that my life will be full of firsts for many years to come. I’ve witnessed The Boy’s first diaper change (which the nurse in the hospital did as I watched), his first shots, his first smile, his first steps, etc. I think you get the idea.

One first I thought surely wouldn’t come for several years (if it even came at all) was his first Behavioral Report. Yes, at the tender age of 17-months, my child brought home with him his very first disciplinary notice. What did he do? He was pushing and hitting the other children.

My son, the Bully.

[sigh]

Cute Husband and I are continuously working with him on using “nice hands” and not hitting people. When he’s over-tired (as he was yesterday), he gets mean and cranky and destructive. We all do. (Mean and cranky, anyway. Some are more destructive than others.) When I see him getting cranky, I step in and put him to bed. But, of course, Mommy wasn’t there at daycare yesterday to intervene, and Cranky Boy – probably after running around too hard in the playground – pushed and/or hit someone (or several someones) and was written up and reprimanded for it.

I’m not saying anyone deserved it (I hope to lead The Boy down the path of non-violence), nor do I say his actions were justified because he woke up at 3am that morning. I will say, though, that after watching him interact with the other kids this morning, I can see how he could interpret the actions of certain other children as aggressive, unfriendly, or, at least, a violation of his personal space. (Not that he really has any concept of personal space, but just go with me.) I also noticed that there are some kids he seemed to want to High-Five, only the other kid didn’t have his hand up at the time and The Boy hit his shoulder, instead.

So, Cute Husband and I have – again – talked to him about not hitting people and using nice hands. It’s a process, I know.

Thank goodness there’s a Yo Gabba Gabba! segment about it.